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Whale of a Beach House

Courtyard Courtyard Jamie Gill

Troppo Architects (SA)

SA Entries 2010


Winner of The Rising Star Award, 2010



Using durable and traditional South Coast SA materials of fibre cement and timber, the Whale-of-a-Beach-house is built to age gracefully behind the Port Elliot dunes, in the full-face of Southern Ocean weather. Externally, both timber and fibro (and the modicum of boundary-edging pre-coloured blockwork) are unfinished (except for a sacrificial preservative oil to decking boards) for no maintenance - save for doors and handrails, which are proposed to be re-oiled annually.

Durability Grade 1 and affordable, Cypress Pine is used for all external columns, bearers, joists, exposed rafters, purlins and closing boards - as well as in screens, batten soffits, cover battens and exposed single skin stud-frame walls. Princely (royal species) Tallowood is used as decking boards, steps and handrails, where edge boards, gapped-mitre joints and other considered details are incorporated to achieve tolerance and best effect over time in the exposed conditions.

Aside from their characteristic durability, Cypress and Tallowood have been selected for their ability to grey softly and silkily at the Beach, like driftwood. Post/ beam/ bearer joints cantilever with thematic profile cuts, to protect end-grain and to extend end-grain/ bolt distance. Joists are also cantilevered beyond their immediate need, again to extend structural life and to economically pattern leading building edges.

Hidden (internal) framing is local radiate pine and LVL joists, rafters and purlins.

Internally, finish timbers are: Blackbutt t&g floorboards, Blackbutt joinery and trims; and cabinets faced with clear finished mdf, with solid laminated Tas Oak benchtops and trims.

In the main living space, select recycled hardwood beams and cypress columns are expressed internally alongside the higher finish cabinets and linings. But the outdoor timber expression also threads through breezeway and linking movement spaces, and especially characterises the inside-outside stairs and bathrooms/ laundries.

The Whale is an essay in placing timber species and products for best fit - and in extending their vocabulary in a local beach-side tradition.
Entered into:
  • Best Use Of Timber as a Structural Element, 2010
  • Best Use Of Timber Flooring, 2010
  • Residential Class 1, New Buildings (Single family dwellings/townhouses), 2010
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